Archive for February, 2010

Green-onion flatbreads (Chong Yo Bing)

February 19, 2010

Green-onion flatbreads (Chong Yo Bing)


Over 30 years ago (eek!), students at Stanford University founded the Asian American Theatre Project to promote and showcase theatrical works by Asian American artists featuring Asian American actors.  The first production was “FOB (Fresh off the Boat)” by Stanford student David Henry Hwang.  FOB launched his career and he is now one of America’s preeminent playwrights, with a 1988 Tony and Drama Desk award for best play (M Butterfly), multiple Obie awards, and multiple Tony and Pulitzer Prize nominations. 

So what does all this have to do with today’s dish?  Chong Yo Bing (“Bing”) figured prominently in FOB. David even wrote a very sensuous monologue about Bing.  I’m proud to say that I was one of the founding members of the AATP, worked on FOB, and was responsible for making the Bing for every production.  I can’t recall if I’ve made it in the 30-some years since.  This weekend however, I am reuniting with David and other AATP founding members at Stanford and moderating a panel following a revival production of FOB.  For old time’s sake, I made Bing and will bring it to the theatre.  I don’t know if David would agree, but to me, it was “All about the Bing.”

My mother taught me how to make Bing and we made it frequently when I was a kid.  She likes to put bacon bits in it, which makes it extra delicious.  I left them out this time but they still have great bacon flavor because of the drippings.  If you are vegetarian, you can substitute vegetable oil but they won’t be as hedonistic.  By rolling them the way described below, they come out very flaky.  They are really yummy with a warm slightly-sweetened soy-milk chaser.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup rendered bacon drippings (room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup cooked bacon bits (optional)
  • Kosher salt (only if you don’t use bacon bits)

Add boiling water to the flour in a food processor fitted with a dough blade.  Process until the mixture forms a ball.  If it is too dry add cold water (1/2 tbsp at a time until the ball forms).  Remove the ball and put it in an oiled bowl covered with a clean damp towel.  Let dough rest for 15 minutes.

Cut the ball into 12 equal-sized pieces.  Return all but one to the bowl and recover.  Lightly flour a cutting board.  Roll the dough piece into a ball.  Flatten it on the flour-dusted board, flip it over and coat the other side lightly with flour.  Roll the ball out into a thin 6” diameter circle.  Lightly brush the surface with bacon drippings.  Sprinkle 1 tbsp green onions and 1 tsp of bacon bits on top, leaving 1” of the far end of the circle onion and bacon free.  If not using bacon bits, sprinkle a pinch of salt over the surface.

Starting from the edge of the circle closest to you, roll the circle like a jelly roll towards the onion free edge into a tight rope.  Pinch all seams closed.  Starting on one end of the rope, coil it towards the other end to form a snail bun shape.  Pinch the end tight.  Press the snail bun with your palm and roll it again into a circle – this time about five inches in diameter.  Some onion or bacon may fall out.  Don’t freak out.  Just press it back into the dough and lightly dust the area with flour.

Repeat with the remaining 11 pieces of dough, stacking the flatbreads on top of one another.

Heat two non-stick frying pans over medium heat.  Brush pans lightly with bacon drippings.  When oil sizzles, add a flatbread to each pan and pan fry for about two minutes, or until nice golden brown spots develop all over the bottom surface, pressing the breads against the pan occasionally.  Lift each flatbread with a pancake turner, brush a little more bacon dripping underneath.  Flip the bread over and fry the other side until golden brown spots form (see photo).  Remove from pans and repeat with remaining 10 flatbreads.

These are best hot from the stove but you can also allow the breads to cool, wrap them in foil and reheat them in the oven later.

Makes 12 flatbreads

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Belated Valentine’s Day Dinner

February 17, 2010

Steak with Mushrooms Madeira, oven roasted potatoes, green beans and apple-cranberry-walnut salad.  I had planned to make this on Valentine’s Day, but we pigged out on dim sum and weren’t hungry for dinner.  So we decided rather to wait a day or two.

Dessert: chocolate dipped strawberries.  I cheated and used dolci-frutti microwaveable chocolate shell to dip the berries.



  • ½ pound red potatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 2 tsp seasoning (lemon pepper, Montreal steak)
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Combine ingredients and spread potatoes out in a baking dish in a single layer.  Roast in a 450 degree oven for 20 minutes or until nicely browned.

Apple-cranberry-walnut salad


  • 4 oz mixed salad greens rinsed and spun dry
  • ½ apple, cored and diced
  • 2 tsp lemon or lime juice
  • 2 tbsp dried cranberries
  • 1 oz provolone cheese diced
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp walnut pieces

Toss apple with lemon or lime juice to keep it from browning.  Just before serving, top salad greens with apple, cranberries and cheese.  Mix vinegar and olive oil and toss with the salad.   Sprinkle walnuts on top

Mushrooms Madeira

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ¼ pound fresh button mushrooms, wiped clean and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup thinly sliced peeled shallots
  • 1 tsp beef based dissolved in ½ cup warm  water
  • ½ cup Madeira

Melt butter over medium high heat in a large skillet (using a large skillet lets you spread the mushrooms in a single layer to aid browning.  Add mushrooms and stir occasionally until starting to brown.  Add shallots and stir for about 2 more minutes.  Add beef broth and boil down.  Add Madeira and boil down until a syrupy sauce develops.  Turn off heat and set aside.


  • 2 thin-cut rib-eye sticks, extraneous fat trimmed off and discarded
  • Salt, freshly ground pepper and garlic powder

Adjust oven shelf to closest position underneath the boiler.  Lightly season both sides of steaks with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Broil 3 minutes per side for medium.

Green beans

Put about 3 inches water in a pot fitted with a steamer basket.  Bring to boil.  Add 4 oz defrosted frozen green beans.  Steam for 2 minutes.  Season with butter.

Serve steaks, topped with mushrooms accompanied by potatoes and green beans. Serve salad separately.  Serves 2

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Pasta e Fagioli, Chopped Salad

February 16, 2010

Pasta e Fagioli and Chopped Salad


Pasta e Fagioli (pasta and bean soup) is very popular in East Coast Italian communities.  In the Boston – Providence area, it’s frequently pronounced  “pasta fazhol.”  Further south around New York and New Jersey, it’s commonly pronounced “pasta fazool.”  In either event, the final “i” is dropped.

The chopped salad is more “Cucina Nuova” Italian American.

Both dishes are very easy and very fast to make.

Salad dressing

  • 2 tbsp wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove smashed.
  • Some chopped fresh Italian herbs-basil, oregano, marjoram, whatever’s available
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper

Combine ingredients together.  Check seasoning.  Let dressing sit while you prepare everything else. 


You can cook the pasta in the soup directly but boiling it and draining it separately will prevent the soup from getting too cloudy.

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 15-oz can Italian style diced tomatoes (or regular tomatoes and 1 tbsp each minced fresh basil and fresh oregano)
  • 1 15-oz can cannellini (white Kidney) beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 oz small pasta such as elbos, ditalini, etc.
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Chopped parsley

In a soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add tomatoes, cannellini and chicken stock, bring to a boil and then simmer.  In a separate pot heat about 4 cups of water till boiling.  When boiling, add pasta and cook for about 8 minutes, or until al dente.  Drain pasta and rinse it with cool water and then add it to the soup.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately (if you aren’t quite ready to serve it, do not add the pasta yet or it will get mushy.  Toss it with a little olive oil and add it to the soup just before serving.  Garnish with cheese and parsley.  Makes 4 hearty servings.


  • Six cups romaine lettuce, stem removed and chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 oz dry salame, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • Half the contents of a 15-oz can of chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 oz provolone cheese, diced
  • 1 Roma tomato, stemmed and chopped

Combine ingredients in a large salad bowl.  When dinner is ready to be served, pick out the garlic from the dressing.  Give the dressing another whisk and then toss with salad.  The salad should be only slightly dressed and not soggy.  Serves 4.

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Spicy Shrimp Pasta

February 13, 2010

Spicy Shrimp Pasta

Do not shy away from the amount of anchovies and garlic, if you do this dish will be very bland.  Be assertive!  The sauce cooks very quickly, so wait until you’ve put the pasta in the pot of boiling water to start the sauce or the shrimp will be tough and the broccoli mushy.

  • 8 oz dried pasta (spaghetti, linguine, fettucine)
  • 1 2-oz can anchovies in olive oil
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup chopped sweet onion
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups broccoli florettes
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 fresh Roma tomato diced
  • 8 oz large cooked shelled shrimp (defrosted if frozen)

Bring a large quantity of lightly salted water to boil for pasta.  (While water is coming to a boil, prepare other ingredients but don’t start cooking them yet).  Add a tsp or so of oil (to keep pasta from sticking).  Stir pasta occasionally.  Cook for 10 minutes or until al dente.

After you put the pasta in the pot, start the sauce.  Heat the anchovies, in the oil over medium heat, mashing them. Add garlic, onion and red pepper and stir for about 3 minutes.  Add white wine and bring it to a boil. Add broccoli.  Turn heat to medium, cover and steam broccoli for about two minutes. Uncover, add tomatoes and shrimp.  Cover again for about 1-2 minutes or just till the shrimp are heated through.

Drain the pasta and mix with the sauce.  Makes 4 servings.

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Pineapple Tarts

February 12, 2010

Pineapple Tarts

Gung Hee Fat Choy everyone!  My friend Julia Nickson’s FB post reminded me of these delicious pineapple tarts that are a staple of Chinese New Year in Singapore and Malaysia.  Since more than half my extended family is from there or has lived there, I decided to tackle these myself, though I have never made them before.  They turned out great.  The recipe is not difficult, but making the homemade pineapple jam takes a lot of patience.  I had to slowly simmer the pineapple for over an hour over low heat.  Do not be tempted to turn the temperature up, the mixture will spatter and burn you and the pineapple badly.  Using a wide skillet helps to speed up the process because there is more surface area for evaporation.  The sugar in the pastry is not traditional and optional but may appeal to non-Asian palates that are familiar with sweeter pastries.

The recipes I looked at called for fresh pineapple.  Now as an Island girl myself I can trim, peel, seed and cut a fresh pineapple in less than a minute.   But when Trader Joes sells delicious frozen pineapple chunks for $1.59 a one-pound bag (half the price of a whole pineapple), why bother?

Pineapple filling

  • 2 pounds frozen pineapple chunks, defrosted in the bag
  • 3 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick
  • 4 whole cloves.

Drain the pineapple in a colander over a large bowl, reserving the juice.  Transfer the pineapple to a food processor and pulse it on and off a few times into a very chunky pineapple sauce.  Mix pineapple juice, lime juice and cornstarch together.  Add pineapple, sugar, cinnamon and cloves, and mix well.  Transfer the mixture to a wide skillet.  Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture is jam-like and starts to brown slightly.  This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or more, so have patience.  This is so worth it.  You can use prepared pineapple jam, but it’s not the same.  Pick out the cinnamon and cloves.  Turn off the heat and let the filling cool.

Shortbread pastry

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar (optional, I left it out)
  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • Grated rind of one lime
  • 1 tbsp lime juice

Rinse and dry the food processor bowl.  Put the flour, salt and sugar (if used) in the food processor fitted with a dough blade and process to blend.   Cut the butter into small pieces and add it to the flour mixture.  Pulse a few times until the butter is incorporated and the mixture is crumbly.  Beat eggs, lime rind and lime juice together.  Turn processor on again and add liquid mixture through the tube.  Pulse until liquid is incorporated.  Check the dough, it should be crumbly but if pressed together holds together well.  If the mixture is too dry add cold water 1 tbsp at a time, and process again until mixture holds together.  Turn mixture out onto a clean cutting board and form it into a ball.  If it is too wet (sticks to cutting board, add a little more flour). Wrap the ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 20 minutes.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Adjust oven rack to the middle of the oven.  Preheat it to 350 degrees.

Roll the dough out on a cutting board to ½ inch thickness.  Using a small fluted biscuit or cookie cutter, cut rounds of dough and transfer them to the cookie sheet.  Combine scraps into a ball and roll out again, cutting more rounds until the dough is used up.  This receipt should make about 2 dozen rounds, about 1 ½” in diameter.

Use your thumb or knuckle to press an large indentation in the middle of each round.  Spoon ½ tsp of the pineapple filling in each indentation.

Bake the tarts for 25-30 minutes or until golden.  Rotate the cookie sheet 180 degrees halfway through the baking process to ensure evening baking.  Let tarts cool before eating (if you can!)

Makes 2 dozen little tarts.

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Minestrone Genovese

February 11, 2010

Minestrone Genovese

Lighter than a Minestrone Napolitano but still very hearty.  But you can eat this with very little guilt as the calorie count is very low.  No need for extra cheese, as the cheese in the pesto gives just the right amount of flavor.

  • 1 ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped onion
  • 2 oz peeled and minced shallots
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ½” dice
  • 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 small red potato,  scrubbed, unpeeled and cut into ½ inch dice
  • 2 cups Savoy cabbage leavens rinsed and shredded
  • 1 can Canellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium zucchini, stem removed and cut into ½ inch dice
  • ½ cup green beans cut into 1 inch lengths
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, stemmed and cut into ½ inch dice
  • Freshly ground pepper

In a large pot over medium high heat, sauté onion, shallots and garlic in olive oil.  When vegetables are soft, add carrots, stock and oregano.  Bring stock to boil then turn down to simmer for 5 minutes.  Add potatoes and simmer another 5 minutes.  Add cabbage and simmer another five minutes.  Then add Canellini, zucchini, green beans and tomatoes and simmer five minutes more.  Season with ground pepper.  Ladle into bowls and top with a spoonful of pesto.  Makes 8 servings.


  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 clove garlic peeled
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • Freshly grated pepper

Whirl ingredients together in a food processor.  Consistency will be rather coarse (like coarse mustard).

I served this Minestrone with toasted Italian sandwiches – warm Italian bread spread with pesto, Italian roast beef and a slice of cheese – yummy.

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Grilled Balsamic chicken, tomato/olive pesto

February 10, 2010

Grilled Chicken and Tomato-Olive Pesto Pasta

 Another easy meal.  The sun-dried olive pesto pasta doesn’t have the prettiest color (no bright green pesto or flaming red sauce) but it is delicious so don’t pass it up.


  • 1 pound boneless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 ½ tbsp olive oil

Pound or butterfly the thicker portions of the chicken to ensure even thickness and cooking.  But chicken in a zipper bag.  Combine the other ingredients and pour the marinade into the bag.   Massage the bag to distribute the marinade.  Refrigerate the bag for 2-4 hours.

Remove chicken from the bag.  Pour the marinade into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil.  Turn off the heat.  Put the chicken on a broiler rack and broil (or grill on a grill) for about 5 minutes per side.  Baste with the cooked marinade to keep the chicken juicy and help it to achieve a nice brown color.

Pesto sauce

You can make the sauce while the chicken is marinating.  Cover it with plastic wrap and set it aside on a countertop until the pasta is done.

  • ¾ cup sun dried tomatoes (if packed in olive oil, drain them well)
  • ¼ cup pitted oil-cured olives or Kalamata olives, drained
  • ½ cup well packed Italian parsley leaves
  • ½ cup well packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 oz peeled and coarsely chopped shallots
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (omit if your tomatoes were oil packed)
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ cup warm chicken broth
  • 8 oz pasta such as linguini, or spaghetti
  • Grated parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients except pasta and cheese in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Bring pasta water to a boil just before grilling the chicken.  Add 1 tsp salt and then pasta (chicken goes in the broiler right after the pasta).  Cook pasta, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes or until al dente.  Drain well and mix with the pesto sauce.   Mound pasta onto dinner plates and top with cheese.  Add grilled chicken and a green salad.  Serves 4

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Spezzatino di Maiale (Italian pork stew)

February 7, 2010

Spezzatino di Maiale (Italian pork stew)

In my hubby’s Italian-American family, there is always someone in each generation who is the keeper of the Italian culinary tradition. Though I’m not Italian, I’m gunning for that spot.  This recipe is perfect for Superbowl Sunday.  Have plenty of warm Italian bread to dunk in the stew.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 pounds cubed pork
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup red wine, warmed
  • 3/4 cup dry Marsala wine, warmed
  • 1 15-oz cans of  tomatoes, preferably organic
  • 6 ounces pitted strong black oil-cured olives
  • 8 oz sliced bell peppers, mixed colors (Trader Joes sells frozen rainbow peppers in 1 pound bags)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
  • ½ cup chopped basil
  • ½ cup minced Italian parsley

In a large pot, sauté pork cubes in the olive oil till browned.  Add onions and garlic and continue stirring until they are soft.  Add fennel seeds, pepper flakes, wine and Marsala and bring to a boil.  Boil until wine is reduced in half.  Add tomatoes, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 ½ hours.  Add olives and peppers and simmer another ½ hour.  Stir in herbs and correct seasoning.  Cook for 3 minutes more.  Serve with a tossed salad, toasted Italian bread, and a light, zesty red wine.  Makes 6-8 servings.

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Curry Chicken

February 6, 2010

Chicken Curry

This is a variation of a recipe  a family friend gave us in the Philippines.  It doesn’t profess to be an authentic Indian, Malay, Singaporean, Sri Lankan or any Asian curry.  But it’s still delicious and fast to make.  The curry gravy works well with many other foods including seafood, pork and vegetables

Curry gravy

  •  2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1tbsp medium curry powder
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp chicken bullion granules
  • 1 15 oz can coconut milk
  • ½ can water
  • 1 tsp Asian chili sauce

Saute onions and curry powder in oil over medium high heat until onions are soft.  Stir in flour and chicken granules.  Add coconut milk, water and chili sauce and bring to a boil, stirring until smooth.  Set sauce aside

  • 1 pound boneless chicken cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1 pound red potatoes cut into chunks
  • 2 cups broccoli flowerets

In another skillet, sauté chicken in canola oil over high heat until chicken begins to brown.  Add potatoes and continue stirring until chicken and potatoes are lightly browned.  Add the curry gravy and reduce heat to medium low.  Cook covered for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are just under al dente. Add broccoli, cover and cook for about 5 minutes more.  Serve over hot rice. 

Serve with the following condiments on the side:

  • Diced bananas
  • Chopped roasted cashews or peanuts
  • Chopped cilantro
  • raisins

Makes 4 servings.

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Barbecued steak

February 4, 2010

Busy day today.  Luckily I had some left over cooked barbecue sauce from Pinoy Pork Barbecue (see January 31, 2010 post).  So I cut 1 pound sirloin into 4 steaks, 1/2 inch thick.  Sprinkled some salt and pepper on them, brushed some heat sauce on them and broiled them for 5 minutes each side, basting with more sauce.  Served with steamed red potatoes, green beans and carrots. Serves 4

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